Home Hospice Care

When medical science can no longer add more days to a patient’s life, hospice care can add more life to each remaining moment. We work with patients, their families, and physicians to make the end of life a time of comfort, enrichment, and love.

Our hospice nurses help the patient control and direct their end-of-life care. They provide peace of mind, dignity, and comfort on the patient's terms—often in their own home. The hospice team provides medical, emotional, and spiritual support to our patients and their families.

Saint Luke’s Hospice is known for its:

  • Nursing, health aides, social services, and bereavement staff whose experience and certifications are concentrated in end-of-life care
  • Care in the comfort of patients' homes
  • Access to consultative care 24/7
  • Supportive staff for the family, including counseling and grief support, continuing after the death of the patient

In addition to our hospice services, we offer specialized programs:

  • Bereavement services. We offer support to family members of the deceased for 18 months or longer to help them cope with their pain and loss.
  • Veteran-to-Veteran Program. We honor patients who have served our country via veteran volunteers—from the patient’s respective military branch—who visit and present plaques of appreciation.
  • Music therapy. This specialized therapy helps hospice patients relax and reduce their pain. It also helps patients with Alzheimer's or dementia express themselves when they can no longer speak.

Our hospice team includes:

  • Physicians
  • Nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and licensed practical nurses
  • Social workers
  • Chaplains
  • Bereavement coordinators
  • Neonatal bereavement coordinators
  • Home health aides
  • Music therapists
  • Trained volunteers

Specific hospice services include:

  • Pain and symptom management
  • Cardiac care management
  • Skilled nursing-wound and ostomy care, geriatric care, and chronic disease management
  • Medical equipment available within four hours; no authorization required.
  • Medical supplies and pain and comfort medications supplied and delivered to the home
  • Therapy available for safety needs
  • Dietary and nutrition services
  • Bathing assistance
  • Certified palliative care physician, nurse practitioner, and social worker
  • Saint Luke’s Hospice House inpatient care, as needed


Corporate office
3516 Summit
Kansas City, MO 64111
816-756-1160 or 888-303-7576 phone
816-756-2596 fax

West office
1004 Progress Drive, Suite 150
Lansing, KS 66043

North office
601 S. 169 Highway
Smithville, MO 64089

Northeast office
893 Fairway Drive
Chillicothe, MO 64601

About Hospice

What is Hospice?

Hospice provides comfort and support to people nearing the end of life. This helps them and their family let go with dignity. Hospice focuses on quality of life. And it helps someone live his or her last days with a sense of control. Hospice programs support both the patient and family. They include physical, emotional, and spiritual services. This sheet tells you more about hospice. It may help you decide if this care is right for you or your loved one.

Man comforting older man with walker

The goals of hospice

Hospice is a special type of care for people with illness for which there is no cure. Its goal is not to shorten life. Instead, the goal is to give comfort and support to a dying person and his or her loved ones. Hospice care helps to ease disease symptoms, like pain, nausea, and breathing problems. It also helps to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of a dying person. And those of his or her family and friends.

Qualifying for hospice

A person with an illness can go into hospice when a healthcare provider believes he or she has about 6 months or less to live. Hospice care can be used by people in the end stages of cancer, severe lung disease, heart failure, and other diseases. Hospice continues as long as it is needed. If a person’s health improves, he or she can end the hospice care and start it again later. Also, a person in hospice has the right to leave hospice care at any time for any reason.

The services of hospice

Hospice is most commonly provided in the home. It can also be offered in the nursing home, assisted living facility, or hospital depending on the person's care needs. Hospice care is provided by an interdisciplinary team, which includes doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. A registered nurse case manager, also known as a RN Case Manager, coordinates care provided by the hospice team. He or she also provides skilled nursing care as needed. The RN Case Manager makes weekly to daily visits based on the needs of the client and his or her family. Hospice also offers access to a social worker, home health aide, counselor, chaplain or another spiritual advisor, and others. If hospice is done at home, family members give day-to-day care. Support is given to the patient and family in many ways. These may include:

  • Making sure medicines are given for the comfort of the patient

  • Helping the family set up the home

  • Supplying medical equipment as needed

  • Helping the family arrange 24-hour care

  • Helping the patient and family find emotional, spiritual, and financial resources

  • Managing contact between the patient, family, and healthcare providers

  • Bereavement care (helping those in mourning) must be available for a year after the patient’s death

Common questions and misunderstandings about hospice

Patients, families, and others may have questions and misunderstandings about hospice care:

  • Hospice is not a place. It is a model of care, not a physical location. It may be provided in the patient’s home, nursing home, or in another institution.

  • Hospice offers a specific treatment only. Patients receive treatments and interventions to maximize comfort and quality of life. In some cases, patients may continue to receive the same treatments they received before hospice, such as palliative chemotherapy, radiation, and heart failure treatments. In addition, hospice care is flexible in the sense that patients can come and go from hospice at any time. Reasons for this include if it is not meeting their needs or if a new treatment becomes available that is not able to be covered by hospice. Once patients leave hospice, they may return to the program at any time if they qualify, such as being determined by a healthcare provider that these patients only have 6 months or less to live. .

  • Patients do not need to be actively dying to receive hospice care. Patients must have an estimated 6 months or less to live to receive hospice. 

  • Do patients have to be DNR to receive hospice? In the U.S., patients are not legally required to have made arrangements for “Do not resuscitate” (DNR) to receive hospice care. Patients must be informed that participating in hospice is a choice to accept that death is looming and that aggressive life-sustaining treatments are not part of hospice. These treatments include ventilator therapy, intensive care, and vasopressors.

  • What happens if a patient is still alive after 6 months? Around 10% of hospice patients live longer than the 6-month limit. When this happens, the hospice staff must discharge the patient from hospice or process a recertification in which it is explained that the patient is declining through dementia, for example, with death likely within 6 months. Among patients discharged from hospice, a high percentage are hospitalized or die soon thereafter.

  • Hospice care does not shorten life or bring about death. In fact, hospice patients have been shown to last longer as compared to similarly ill patients who do not receive hospice care. 

  • Some patients fear that their primary health care provider will abandon them if they choose hospice care. This will not happen because the primary health care provider plays an important role in the care of the hospice patient.    

Who pays for hospice?

Medicare and Medicaid cover hospice care for people age 65 or older. Most health insurance companies also cover hospice care. Hospice is usually available at no extra charge as a free benefit.

Starting Hospice

Starting Hospice

If you are thinking about hospice, you know that the decision can be a difficult one. It means that you or your loved one is nearing the end of life. It is normal to feel very emotional when hospice is discussed. You or your loved one’s healthcare providers can help guide you in making the decision. But keep in mind that the goal of hospice is to provide comfort. This is done for both the person who is ill and his or her family. Hospice is about ensuring quality of life during the time a person has left. Emotional and practical matters are taken care of while symptoms are controlled.

Beginning the hospice process

A healthcare provider must confirm that you or your loved one qualifies for hospice. A person with advanced cancer, heart failure, severe lung disease, or other illness can go into hospice when a health care provider believes he or she has about 6 months or less to live. You can then choose a hospice to make this time as comfortable as possible.

Choosing a hospice

When you are looking at hospices, ask questions. What are their services? Where do they provide careat home or in a facility? Ask for a copy of the hospice’s Patient’s Rights and Responsibilities. To learn more about your local hospices, contact:

The hospice team

Hospice is provided by a team. The team usually has a healthcare provider, nurse, and social worker trained in hospice care. It may also have a home health aide, spiritual counselor, volunteers, and others. The people receiving treatment are an important part of the team. They can voice their wishes and goals. If hospice is done at home, family members give day-to-day care. A hospice aide can make several visits each week to help with bathing and bathroom needs. The number of visits made by the hospice aide is decided by the hospice team and depends on the needs of each client. A nurse, social worker, and other professionals will also visit. A hospice nurse or healthcare provider is on call 24 hours a day to answer questions and handle problems. Ask your healthcare provider if he or she participates in a hospice program if you wish to stay under his or her care while enrolled in a hospice program. If he or she does not participate, your hospice care can be managed by the hospice program's medical director. 

Preparing for care at home

Hospice is often done in the home. Family members are the main caregivers, with support from the hospice team. The team may help you arrange care. They can provide medical equipment as needed. This may include a hospital bed, commode, oxygen, or other supplies. The hospice team can also help the family get breaks from caregiving. This is called respite care. For a short period of time, the person receiving hospice care can be put into a facility. This lets caregivers take care of other needs. If hospice is already being done in a facility, all of these things are taken care of on-site.

Physical care

Symptoms are treated. These include pain, nausea, anxiety, breathing distress, and sleep problems. The hospice program will provide medicines to ease these symptoms. Treatments that are no longer helping may be stopped. The team will discuss what treatment changes may be needed. Caregiver training may be given to family members.

Emotional care

Both the person receiving treatment and family members can get counseling. This is to help with anxiety, grief, family conflict, and spiritual issues. Bereavement support can continue up to 1 year after the person dies

Practical matters

The hospice team helps the person receiving treatment and family members understand the illness and how it progresses. They can help both the person and family members review choices so decisions can be made. The team can help with finding legal resources and answering insurance questions. And they give information about how to make funeral and memorial arrangements.

Stopping hospice

The person’s primary care provider will have contact with the hospice team on a regular basis. If the person’s health improves, he or she may no longer meet the terms for hospice or need hospice care. In this case, the person can end the hospice care and start it again later as needed. A person can go back to hospice at any time by being recertified by a healthcare provider. Also, a person has the right to leave a hospice at any time for any reason. A person can also change to a different hospice if he or she is not happy with the care.

The cost of hospice care

Medicare, Medicaid (in some states), most private insurance groups, and HMOs cover hospice care. Families may be asked to meet some costs that are not covered by insurance. Public and community support through donations, grants, memorial gifts, and fundraising events make it possible for hospices to cover the cost of care. People are generally not turned away for financial reasons.


Clay M Anderson, MD

Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Samuel L Dandar, MD

Family Medicine, Hospitalist

Sarah B Florio, MD

Internal Medicine, Hospitalist

Jay Alan Riseman, MD

Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Amber Lea Wollesen, MD

Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Tracy Ann Clark, RN, APRN-C, ACHPN

Nurse Practitioner, Hospice and Palliative Medicine
A family walks into the sunset

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